The Letter to the Romans



24. War Between the Laws


Romans 7:14-25

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.
17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.
18 know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing.
20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law;
23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind a making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
25 Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.


Key Words

Spiritual vs. Unspiritual


No longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me


Body of death


Another lawwaging war against the law of my mind


In chapter 7 Paul has been illustrating the role of law in a person's life. He has shown that law is binding only as long as the person living under its authority is alive, and he has illustrated that when we died with Christ, we died to sin and also to the law. We have been reborn in a new state: we belong to Jesus. Further, he has shown that the law's function was starkly to reveal sin in our lives and to increase sin's hold on us by keeping our failures always before us. Now Paul describes the struggle even a Christian has with persistent sin in his or her life.


1. Theologians have debated for centuries whether or not this passage refers to an unconverted person or a converted person. Since Paul includes it in his description of dying to sin and the law and living by the Spirit, what evidence might we have that he is referring to a converted person being "unspiritual" and "sold to sin" in verses 14 & 15, and how is such sinfulness possible in a Christian? (see 1 Corinthians 3:1-3; 14:20; Galatians 5:16-17; Hebrews 5:12-14; 2 Peter 2:1-3; John 16:12-13)


2. This struggle between sinning and resisting sin confirms the righteousness and goodness of the law. If the law, however, is something to which we die, how can it be holy? (see verse 12; Romans 8:4:14-15; 3-4; Galatians 3:21; 1 Timothy 1:8-11)


3. If we have died to sin after accepting Christ, how can we still have sin in us? (see Romans 8:10; 23-25; 13:14; 1 Corinthians 15:42-43; Galatians 5:16-18; 1 Peter 2:11)


4. What does Paul mean in verse 14 where he says "The law is spiritual" in contrast with himself being "unspiritual"? (see verses 7, 12; Galatians 3:21-24; 1 Corinthians 3:1)


5. After a person accepts Jesus, he begins to desire to live for him. How does this new awareness of and love for God create a new struggle in the heart of a newly "born" Christ-follower who was convicted of his need for a Savior by the law? (see verses 10-11; 15-24; Galatians 5:17; James 4:1; 1 Peter 2:11)


6. Explain how this struggle between the conviction of the law and a newly awakened heart leads to a person's embracing the new covenant instead of the old.


7. What is "this body of death," and why does Paul call it that? (see Romans 6:6, 16; Romans 8:2, 10; 2 Corinthians 5:4)


8. In verse 25 Paul says his mind is a slave to God's law, but his sinful nature is a slave to sin. How does this contrast illustrate that Paul is referring to his condition as a born again person, not one that is still unregenerate? (Romans 6:11-14, 22; compare with Romans 1:18-19, 21, 24, 26, 28; 2:5-6, 8-9; Psalm 1:1-2; 40:8)



9. In what areas do you struggle between knowing God's will for you and feeling out-of-control with temptation or destructive behavior that you can't stop?


10. To what change or surrender are you afraid to commit for fear of not being able to maintain your commitment?


11. What habits or indulgences do you rationalize because you fear having to give them up?


12. Ask God to make your heart willing to know his will for you. Ask him to help you to say "Yes" to the Holy Spirit when He convicts you of sin you need to surrender. Thank Jesus for making it possible for you to be righteous before the Father even though you are still in your mortal body.

Copyright (c) 2004 Graphics Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted September 18, 2004.
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